One of the holy grails in the music composition field is to receive recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This prestigious organization was founded in 1898, when it was chartered by the U.S. Congress, as the American Academy states, to “foster, assist, and sustain an interest in literature, music, and the fine arts.” The Academy maintains a roster of 250 highly accomplished elected members whose careers encompass a very wide cross-section of these fields; these members are elected for life and pay no dues. As part of the mission of the Academy, these members annually nominate individuals within their own fields to receive prizes, which serve to acknowledge the artistry of the recipients as well as offer financial support for their endeavors.
|New York Times announcement|
|David Rakowski in the Portrait Room|
|Helen Keller's portrait and signature|
The Academy held their Ceremonial to honor all new members as well as award recipients on May 22nd in New York City. There’s lots of history and culture gathered within the walls of the Academy, starting with a room containing portraits of everyone who has been elected to be
a member of the Academy (this
year’s new musical members are Chen Yi and Meredith Monk). I was surprised and
thrilled to find Helen Keller among the portraits. There are also paintings,
sculptures, and other pieces of art tastefully displayed throughout the Academy. Additionally, all of this year’s award recipients and new members were invited
to send in materials to be on display; these were placed around the Academy’s
rooms as well.
|With Chen Yi and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich|
|With Joan Tower|
|With Melinda Wagner and David Rakowski|
|With Martha Mooke, Tania León, and Gity Razaz|